Monday, September 15, 2008

The end of an era

Saturday was the end of an era for my family. We put to rest our first and only family dog.

At nearly fifteen, Taffi's passing was hardly unexpected. We all watched her deteriorate with age, becoming uncomfortable and dysfunctional. With all of the close-calls and illnesses that Taffi had during her lifetime (mostly due to her delinquent nature), my mom was sure that some dramatic illness or trauma would be her undoing. She didn't think she would have to make the decision to put Taffi down. But, as I joke with my family, Taffi was too mean to die. She was a fighter, and she was stubbornly loyal to my mom.

And my mom was stubbornly loyal to her. Every malady Taffi suffered (and there were many) was quickly treated. Even, on one occasion, when that meant over $1,000 in vet bills for four days in intensive care after Taffi ate opossum poop in the yard. Especially near the end of her life, Mom got used to fighting for Taffi by searching for health solutions for her. She diligently took care of her, even getting up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to let her outside and feed her.

But a few weeks ago, my tearfully told me of her decision to put Taffi down. "I used to think that God was trying to teach me perseverance," she said, "but now I think He's trying to teach me about letting go."

In the car with just my mom, dad, sister, and Taffi on the way to the vet, I realized that it was the first time in a long while that we had all been together in that way. It was a snapshot of our family unit as it was years ago, before new human and animal family members were added to our lives. And it was the last time the four of us would be together with Taffi.

We had Taffi for nearly fifteen years. As we were saying goodbye to her, we were also acknowledging the ending of an era and ushering in a new one. Things are changing for all of us: my mom and dad both have new jobs, my sister is married and expecting a child, and I have many changes in my own life. Though we are a close family, our lives are taking us in new directions.

Through her own nature of determination and stubborn independence, Taffi taught us all about perseverance, but any lesson on perseverance needs to be accompanied by a lesson on letting go. In order to move into a new phase of life, you have to let go of the old one. Letting go of Taffi frees my family to fully acknowledge this new stage of our lives together.

So on Saturday, with a blend of laughter and tears, we said goodbye and learned that it's ok to let go.


coopercreek said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. It's hard, but the memories will stay near and dear to your hearts. We had to put our family dog to rest almost four years ago. Murphy was a black lab and lived to be 14. My son was 7 when we got her and my daughter was 9.

Take care,

lizzyl said...

I'm sorry you and your family have to go through this. It sounds as though you loved her very much though, and this was the best thing you could do for her. Best wishes...


I'm sooooo sorry :(